Healthy Holiday Alternatives

Healthy Holiday Alternatives

The holidays are a time to enjoy food, friends and family (even if it is over Zoom this year).  With the many yummy treats this time of the year, it is no wonder most people gain a few pounds over these holiday months. One way to save some calories is to use recipe alterations to cut down on extra fat and sugar. Remember to balance your food intake and energy output; adding in exercise, like a family walk after dinner, will help keep the extra pounds away.

Here are some healthy holiday alternatives to try this holiday season: 

  • Choose the white meat over dark meat for a leaner healthier option. 
  • Use low-fat gravy.
  • Make homemade sides instead of store bought or boxed sides.
  • Swap the sour cream in your dishes with Greek yogurt. Many holiday dishes have sour cream—mashed potatoes, casseroles and sauces. These can instantly be made healthier by subbing in an equal amount of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt will also add some protein to the dish.
  • Make sure to snack on fruits and vegetables rather than candies and desserts.
  • Eat a meal before the party so you do not over indulge during the party.
  • Enjoy your favorite holiday foods in moderation.
  • Mashed potatoes- just know that a cup of mashed potatoes, before butter and gravy, racks up more than 200 calories. Cut calories and empty carbs by making mashed cauliflower instead. They offer same texture and similar flavor, plus vitamin C.
  • Sparkling water- Cocktails are usually offered at holiday parties and meals. Try replacing a sugary mixer with sparkling water flavored with fresh grated ginger, mint or fruit.  These options can save you about 30 grams of sugar per serving. Don’t forget to drink water in between cocktails.
  • Fat. For baked goods, use half the butter, shortening or oil and replace the other half with unsweetened applesauce or prune puree. Ripe mashed bananas and avocados are also excellent butter replacers. Bananas add nutrients like potassium, fiber, and vitamin B6. Avocado puree has the creaminess and subtle flavor that works well to the texture of fudge brownies and dark chocolate flavorings. Use 1 cup of mashed bananas or avocado puree per cup of butter. 
  • Sugar. Reduce the amount of sugar by one-third to one-half. Instead, add spices such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg, or flavorings such as vanilla extract or almond flavoring to add sweetness.
  • Chocolate cake makes a great choice to sneak in pureed veggies like beets, pumpkin and spinach!
  • Whole wheat flour for white flour. In virtually any baked good, replacing white flour with whole wheat can add a whole new dimension of nutrients, flavor, and texture. For every cup of white flour, substitute 7/8 cup of whole-wheat. If buying rolls or bread, look for 100% whole wheat. 
  • Two egg whites for one whole egg. Trading out the yolk for a second white will cut out the cholesterol while doubling the protein. If making a dish that requires more eggs, keep one to two yolks for their rich vitamins A, E, D, and K content, but consider swapping out the rest.
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Benefits of Olive Oil and EVOO

bottles of olive oil

This article is sponsored by Best Choice Brand.

Olive Oil is noted as one of the best options to cook with. 

The Process
Simple enough: olive oil is formed from pressing the oil from olives. Extra virgin olive oil is cleverly abbreviated as EVOO. Extra virgin olive oil is cold pressed through a process using water at the same temperature of the olives at specific stages of the oil extraction. The difference between regular olive oil is that extra virgin olive oil doesn’t use hot water or chemicals to extract oil for lower quality oils.

The Benefits
This oil is high in antioxidants and is a healthy source of high-quality fat. EVOO is included in a Mediterranean Diet for its healthy fats. Some even believe that EVOO can fight against heart disease.

What makes Best Choice extra virgin olive oil special?
The Best Choice EVOO olives are from Southern Italy. The olives are grown in Calabrian Region (Boot of Italy). These olives are touched by the caring hands of an Old Word Family Farm, not a big corporate bottler. Also, the EVOO olives are Italian olives and not a blended oil made from multiple countries. This ensures the highest quality.

Best Choice’s unique packaging also stands out as well and provides additional quality components. Any quality EVOO should be in a dark green bottle because everyday light in homes can breakdown the healthy qualities of EVOO. This is why the Best Choice Olive Oil is packaged in a dark green bottle. The 34 oz bottles of EVOO come with a unique, pop-up pour spout. The spout offers a cleaner use as well as an easier way to pour for all of your recipes.

For recipes highlighting EVOO or olive oil, click here:

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Choose Strawberries for vitamin C, potassium, folic acid and fiber.


  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 2 cups spring mix greens
  • 1/3 cup Clearly Organic Mixed Nuts, chopped


  • 1/3 cup Clearly Organic Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Clearly Organic Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Clearly Organic Sesame Seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons onion, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon Clearly Organic Paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • In a large bowl combine mixed greens, spinach, and berries.

In a jar with a lid add olive oil, sugar, vinegar, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, chopped onion, paprika and Worcestershire sauce. Secure lid to the jar and shake dressing until contents are evenly distributed. Just before serving top salad with the desired amount of dressing.

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What is Gingivitis:

Causes, Symptoms, Treatments & Prevention

Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson 

Gingivitis is a common and mild form of gum disease that is a precursor to the more-serious gum disease called periodontitis. Gingivitis can be so mild, in fact, that you may not even recognize it.

Here’s what you should know about the causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention of gingivitis.

What causes gingivitis? Gingivitis is caused by the buildup of bacteria, mucus, and food debris in our mouths, which combine into a sticky substance called plaque. When plaque doesn’t get removed by regular dental care, it turns into a more resilient substance called tartar. Plaque, tartar and the toxins they produce infect and inflame the gums, developing into gingivitis.

What are the symptoms of gingivitis?

  • Swollen, soft, puffy or receding gums
  • Tender gums, itchy guyms, or gums that easily bleed during brushing and flossing
  • Bad breath that just won’t go away

How to treat or prevent gingivitis? The best way to treat gingivitis is to prevent it from happening by maintaining a healthy oral-care routine, including:

  • Brushing teeth twice a day
  • Rinsing with mouthwash
  • Flossing regularly to remove plaque
  • Maintaining a healthy diet

Other factors that can lead to gingivitis. Gingivitis is most commonly caused by plaque buildup, but there are a number of other conditions that may raise the risk of gingivitis, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Hormonal changes, especially for women during puberty or pregnancy
  • Misaligned teeth, rough edges or fillings, and unclean mouth appliances like braces or crowns.
  • Stress
  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Smoking
  • Certain illnesses and their medications
  • Genetic susceptibility to gum disease

This article includes information from the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionMayo Clinic and the American Academy of Periodontology.

© Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2019

Olive Hummus

Olive Hummus

Olive Hummus
  • 1 can Clearly Organic Garbanzo Beans, drained
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Clearly Organic Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
  • 3/4 cup green olives with pimento
  • 1/8 teaspoon Clearly Organic Paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon Clearly Organic Olive Oil

In a food processor or blender add garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and 1 tablespoon Olive Oil. Pulse blend the contents until smooth. Stop to scrape sides as needed. Add kalamata and green olives. Pulse blend again until smooth. Scoop contents into a serving bowl. Top with paprika and olive oil. Add additional sliced olives if desired. The mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week if covered or in an airtight container.

Olive hummus goes great with seasonal sliced vegetables and Clearly Organic corn chips.

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Sun Protection for Every Age

Three generations of people walking in the sun

Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson

Your skin changes as you age, and so do the ways you need to protect it from the sun. A baby’s skin, for instance, can be up to 30 percent thinner than an adult’s, and as we reach middle age and beyond, the skin can thin and become increasingly sensitive. And since sun exposure can, over time, lead to skin cancer and premature skin aging, it is important for people of all ages – from infants to the elderly – to take the proper steps to mitigate those risks.

Here’s how to protect yourself and loved ones of all ages from too much sun exposure.

Infants – Under six months, babies should be kept out of direct sunlight. Dress your baby in breathable clothing that covers the whole body and a hat. Consult your physician for sunscreen use in children six months.

Babies – Babies older than six months should still keep sun exposure to a minimum and should use broad-spectrum sunscreen (meaning it protects against UVA and UVB rays) when outdoors.

Toddlers – Be diligent about applying broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every two hours with busy toddlers. Use water resistant formulas when your child is sweating or swimming.

School-age children – As kids go to school and participate in activities away from home, it is harder to make sure they are using sunscreen. Talk to children about sun safety at recess and during sports. Apply sunscreen at home and ask your child, teachers and coaches to make sure it is reapplied when they play outside.

Adults – Wearing sunscreen for outdoor activities is an obvious must. But because sun exposure can lead to skin aging and increases the risk of skin cancers, it’s also a good idea to wear sunscreen for everyday activities including driving in your car or walking the dog. To minimize the effects of long-term sun exposure, using a daily moisturizer with SPF is a good everyday protection.

Older adults – Our skin gets thinner, drier and more vulnerable as we age. Regularly using a broad-spectrum sunscreen when outdoors is a must, and long sleeves and wide-brimmed hats are a good protective measure as well.

©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2016

Mandarin Orange Rice and Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

Mandarin Orange Rice & Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

Mandarin Orange Rice and Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

Canned fruits can add flavor and nutrition to any meal! Choose can fruits that are packed in 100% juice or water. 

11oz can Best Choice mandarin oranges, drained, juice reserved
Water (amount according to rice package directions)
1 Tbsp Best Choice vegetable oil, divided
1 tsp Best Choice salt
1 cup Best Choice brown rice
2 Tbsp bottled Thai sweet chili sauce plus additional for topping
1 pound medium Best Choice shrimp, peeled and deveined
12 whole large leaves of bibb or iceberg lettuce
1 cup matchstick cut or shredded carrots

¼ cup Best Choice olive oil
¼ cup Thai chili sauce
Juice of ½ lime and some lime zest
Mix all marinate ingredients and shrimp together is a zip lock bag. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Follow package directions to cook the rice, substituting the reserved mandarin oranges juice for part of the water. Stir mandarin oranges and sweet chili sauce into cooked rice. Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add shrimp and sauté just until cooked though, about 4-5 minutes. Arrange lettuce leaves on large platter. Spoon rice mixture into center of each lettuce leaf. Top with carrots and shrimp. Drizzle with additional sauce.Serve with Mango Salsa
1 mango diced
½ lime juice
1 tsp chives
1 Tbls cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Chill and serve.

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Healthy Hair Tips for Summer

Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson 

Summer is one of the harshest seasons on hair. With it comes sunlight, humidity, and chlorine or salt water from swimming. Despite all this, healthy hair is possible with just a few healthy hair tips – here’s how.

How to Protect Hair from Chlorine
Nobody wants chlorine hair! Chlorine can strip hair of natural oils and remove the coloring in dyed hair. It can even turn blond hair green. One of the best defenses is wearing a swim cap to protect hair from the harsh chemicals. If the damage is already done, it is best to consult a professional stylist to see if the damage can be reversed or at least hidden with fresh color. A gloss or glaze treatment is less expensive than a full color and may fix the brassiness of chlorine damaged hair.

How to Protect Hair from Direct Sun
Sun not only bleaches hair, it can also create dry, damaged hair. One trick is to apply a hydrating oil mask to the hair once a week. The best sun protection for hair is to wear a hat outdoors or apply a UV blocking serum to hair before stepping outside.

Salt Water and Hair
A little salt water won’t hurt hair. In fact, a dip in a salt water pool or the ocean can be beneficial. A simple towel-dry and scrunch adds beachy waves to hair. A lot of time in salt water is another story. It can make hair hard and dry, and it can damage color. Applying a serum that is made specifically to protect hair from salt water is key. A pre-shampoo conditioning treatment and leave-in conditioner before a dip can help too. If hair has already been damaged by salt water, a leave-in conditioning treatment may soften the hair follicle.

How to Protect Hair from Humidity
Humidity can make even the straightest hair frizz. A straightening serum used before a straightening iron keeps hair smooth and can also be used as one of your anti humidity hair products. The serum can also make the style last much longer. If straightening isn’t an option, an anti-frizz serum might work. This serum works best when a small, pea-sized dollop is squirted into one hand, the hands are rubbed together vigorously, and the serum is massaged through the hair, starting at the roots and working upward.

Summer doesn’t need to be hard on hair, now that you have these healthy hair tips! Follow these summer tips and you’ll have healthy, beautiful hair throughout the hot months and straight into autumn.

Homemade Hamburgers

Homemade Hamburgers

Homemade Hamburgers
  • 2 pounds of grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 egg, beaten such as a Clearly Cage-Free Egg
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons evaporated milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon Clearly Organic Paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Clearly Organic Ground Pepper
  • 8 bakery fresh hamburger buns

In a large bowl mix ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, onion, evaporated milk, paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix contents with your hands then form hamburger into 8 patties. Preheat and lightly oil grill grates. Grill patties for 5 minutes on each side, or until the meat has reached the desired doneness. Serve on a bakery fresh bun with all your favorite toppings.

Healthy Chicken for Two

Healthy Chicken for Two

Healthy Chicken for Two


  • 6-8 oz. skinless, boneless chicken (white or dark)
  • 2 T Best Choice® extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt-free garlic seasoning
  • ½ tsp Best Choice® cumin
  • ¼ tsp Best Choice® ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp Best Choice® crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup Best Choice® long-grain brown rice
  • ¼ cup wild rice
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can Best Choice® stewed tomatoes, Mexican
  • ½ can water
  • Garnishes of Choice (Best Choice® cheese, Best Choice® sour cream, cilantro, etc.)


  • Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces.
  • Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a non-reactive skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken.
  • Sprinkle with garlic seasoning, cumin and black pepper and hot pepper flakes, if using.
  • Stir until chicken is browned and remove from heat. (Chill until ready to serve.)
  • To skillet, add remaining oil, brown rice and wild rice.
  • Stir until it begins to brown and starts to smell nutty.
  • Add tomatoes and ½ can water to rinse can.
  • Bring to boil and simmer 40 minutes, or until rice is almost cooked.
  • Return chicken to skillet and cook an additional 5 minutes to finish cooking rice and chicken.
  • Serve with any or all garnishes.

Serves 2. Very easy doubled or tripled.